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Inside Towers
Monday, January 5, 2015 Volume 3  | Issue 1
2015 Could Be T-Mobile’s Year
T-Mobile managed to drop jaws in 2014 as they became a viable competitor with AT&T and Verizon. They shook up the mobile market announcing their Un-carrier way of life, gained 6.2 million customers in the first nine months, and improved their network capabilities with more spectrum and tower upgrades. While 2014 was a year to be remembered by the carrier, this year could be even better. There are two possible roads that T-Mobile could take: a new buyer will take over the company or the company will advance on its own. There’s a lot coming up with the current AWS-3 spectrum auction ending and the next auction in 2016. Deutsche Telekom’s Chief Executive Tim Hoettges this past spring warned in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that it would be tough for T-Mobile to survive alone long term, especially in the face of the spectrum auctions. Regardless of predictions, President and CEO of T-Mobile, John Legere is moving forward full speed ahead. On the company blog, Legere shared his 2015 predictions, “The AWS auction will end, and the broadcast incentive auction should gear up for the New Year. However, I am sure that AT&T and Verizon will continue to try and monopolize the industry as well as try to stall the incentive auction, preventing competitive carriers like T-Mobile from winning sufficient amounts of low-band spectrum. The U.S. Government will need to step in and ensure that companies like the Un-carrier can continue to fight the big guys by establishing balanced rules for this auction. Then we will be able to keep driving innovation in this industry!” He has a very optimistic outlook and every intention to fight his way to the top. We’ll just have to wait and see what 2015 brings T-Mobile. But Legere believes T-Mobile will officially become the number 3 wireless carrier in the U.S. “This summer, I said we’d blow by Sprint by the end of 2014 to become the No. 3 wireless company in the U.S. They have been swinging the bat since I made that statement, so we won’t know where things stand until we get the final score after we both report Q4 earnings, but whether it is now – or soon – I’m telling you, it’s a done deal,” Legere wrote. “Here’s to an industry-rockin’ 2015.”
The “Next Billion” Will Need Towers
The end of a year allows for a time of reflection and Frederic Filloux at Quartz discussed the “Next Billion,” which describes the trend that global Internet traffic is expected to double by the end of 2016. At the end of 2012 there were already 2.4 billion users. Filloux goes on to say, “If 85% of the world population lives within range of a cell tower (including 2G connectivity), 4.3 billion people are still not connected to the web. They will do so by getting a smartphone.” More smartphones mean more towers. The tower companies had a booming 2014, and analysts predict that this year will be no different. With the FCC getting on board by streamlining the application process within state and local governments, tower companies should have an easier time doing their job.
Could GM Become the Largest Wireless Provider on the Planet?
In one of those fun articles LinkedIn often updates you with, William Ewing, Vice President of the Minacs Group, discussed how General Motors could become the biggest wireless provider. He explains his big idea, “If every car that General Motors sold in 2014 were equipped with small cell technology, GM could provide wireless (voice and data) services to almost 300 million people.” Ewing states that in 5 years, GM could connect 30% of the world’s population. Small cell technology has gained a lot of attention over the past few years, and is being explored by all the major tower companies and carriers. Ewing isn’t the first to discuss this technology being installed in cars, as cars are everywhere it’s a logical step in the thought process. However, Ewing does go into extreme detail on why cars are an excellent choice for this technology. Of course, we’ll still need those beloved macro sites to power the small cells. Check out the whole article here.
New Technology Delivers Data Speeds 1,000 Times Faster Than 4G
By Alexia Sparling, an insider at Lease Advisors
Technology developed by a San Francisco-based startup is being hailed as the miracle that could end the spectrum shortage crisis. Founded in the early 2000s by entrepreneur Steve Perlman, Artemis Networks has developed a technology known as pCell that can dramatically increase spectrum efficiency (SE). With faster speeds, stronger signal strength, and less energy consumed than the current LTE standard, pCell has the potential to revolutionize the wireless telecommunications industry. The deployment of pCell technology is dissimilar to the deployment of cellular tower networks; instead of servicing an area by establishing a small number of towers, a large number of pCells, the size of wireless routers, called "pWaves" provide improved service to a smaller target area. pCells combine incoming signals from the pWave base stations allowing the pCell wireless user to access unrivaled data speeds. pCell technology can increase the spectrum efficiency of LTE to greater than 50 bps/Hz while offering consistent coverage to an area compared to the spotty current spectrum efficiency of less than the 3 bps/Hz average for LTE. In other words, the pCell technology has the potential to make smartphone internet 1,000 times faster than 4G. If this technology is so revolutionary, why have we not seen the Artemis pCell moving into mainstream markets? Continue reading here
$600,000 in Tower Revenue Reallocated Again
In Spokane, Washington, most cellular equipment is placed on water towers with 37 installations on city property. Each year the city receives $600,000 in rent from this equipment, which goes to the city’s water department. However last year, city officials decided to reallocate the money to its asset management department as the funds weren’t directly related to the city’s water operations. Last month, city officials continued their discussion on where the money should go and reversed the previous decision giving the funds back to the water department. “It was decided that the cell tower revenues were most appropriately accounted for as a revenue of the Water Enterprise Fund,” according to internal briefing paper on the subject. Many of the water towers host equipment from several carriers, which pleases the City Council as it cuts down on the visual impact. 
Viom Networks Expands Tower Operations
Viom Networks, one of India’s largest telecommunications companies, plans to spend ₹150 crore (about $2.2 million) and add 1,000 to 1,500 towers to their network. Last year, the company rolled out a similar number of sites across the country. These new towers would fill in gaps throughout urban areas and bring connectivity to rural areas. Data growth has been increasing throughout India steadily over the past few years. It’s also been reported that American Tower is close to acquiring a 51% stake in Viom Networks.
Planning Commission Postpones
On December 18, the Elk Gove Planning Commissioners in California postponed their vote on Verizon’s proposal to build a new tower. The carrier submitted an application to construct a tower that would be disguised as a bell tower on Peace Presbyterian Church property. The Commissioners decided to give Verizon more time to find an alternative spot for the tower as the potential location for the 57-foot tower might not be ideal. Other ideas were suggested at the meeting, such as disguising the tower as a monopine so it looks even less out of place than the bell tower. Church officials and Verizon employees will continue to discuss what is best for the area, and the Planning Commission will revisit the application on February 5. 
Capacity Issues Addressed in Idaho
Verizon Wireless is hoping to expand capacity in Sandpoint, Idaho, this year by constructing a 150-foot monopole. The company recently submitted the application, so no public hearing has been set. The tower would have a 12-panel antenna array, and would allow for other carriers to co-locate equipment on the structure. The potential site is located in an Agriculture/Forestry zoned district. Verizon Wireless engineer Scott Cashmore said in the application packet that tower would create additional capacity and increase the efficiency of existing cells, "thus providing all users in the vicinity with much higher 4G wireless data transfer speeds and a better overall wireless experience." (CDA Press) 
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Editor: Kristen Sibbitt
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